Solved Condenser microphones - recommended mic-mouth distance

June 14, 2019 at 17:41:08
Specs: Windows 10 Home, Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-860 quad-core processor, 6GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM
I own a couple of inexpensive condenser microphones, a USB microphone and conventional pin microphone that I use with my Windows 10 computers. I need to keep both of them very close to my mouth for them to perform properly. If either microphone is a couple of feet away, the volume of the recording is very low. Is that normal? I kind of remember that the pin microphone worked well from a couple of feet, when I bought it 8 or 9 months ago, but I may remember wrong. The USB microphone is new, so I have no reference information at all. Could you please advice the recommended and the maximum acceptable mic-mouth distances for condenser microphones, for instance, during a Skype phone conversation?
Thanks

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#1
June 15, 2019 at 03:30:35
If you look carefully at that news anchors and other presenters on television you’ll see that their mics are usually somewhere between a line at breast level, and lapel. Occasionally they will be at throat level (peeking out from the neck line/collar of dress if the speaker is wearing one).

You’ll also note the live anchors etc. will often have two clip ons, bugs..., side by side; in effect stereo..., whilst allowing one to act as a standby should the other fail.

The “bugs” are usually inverted so as to limit overload - too high a voice level popping the mic, giving a clipping effect or even distortion.

You will see stage mics located on a wee side arm/boom close to the mouth of the performer; some on occasion being positioned on the forehead (if the makeup, costume etc. of the performer requires the mic be less evident). These mics are specifically designed for those situations.

Those used by news anchors etc. are designed to be worn as earlier detailed.

The condenser mic is vulnerable to misuse, damage mechanically if bashed about. Cheap mics may have low sensitivity, compared to the top of the line models; and the specs. and sensitivity of bugs has evolved greatly over the years (and size of the capsule reduced noticeably.

Radio Shack in the late 70s/early 80s sold a condenser clip on/bug which was very similar to early Sony models - and really quite a decent mic., and quite small and unobtrusive. It was a fraction of the Sony price and in general use (conventions, assemblies, lectures etc.) was just as good as the expensive broadcast spec’d versions. Their battery life wasn’t quite as long as the broadcast versions, but would last a day at least. Broadcast bugs usually had inline power modules of course, and thus were smaller and no risk of dropping out due to battery failures.

My limited experience with usb mics leads me to feel that some are better than others; sensitivity varies greatly. Likewise quality control may be variable too... I would not expect “any” normal bug to require it to be very close to the mouth under normal voice levels; if speaking softly, low level etc. then yes it might be moved close to the lips.

That your mics were ok initially and they aren’t is suspicious. Are you certain mic level input is selected and not line (although line level with just about any mic would’t provide any obvious signal input); that the mic level in settings are correct (usually mid-two thirds at most for average voice)?

If you test the mics on another system do they still sound low level?

When I have used Skye the audio on the webcam mic has been quite adequate when the the webcam was at least a fifteen to eighteen inches away..

What make mics do you have, and how much they cost?


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#2
June 15, 2019 at 14:01:01
Thanks for your reply.

My plug mic is a Tumo Professional Condenser Sound Podcast Studio Microphone for Pc Laptop Skype MSN.

My USB mic is a CMTECK USB Computer Microphone, Plug &Play Desktop Omnidirectional Condenser PC Laptop Mic.

They are priced around $15 on Amazon.

I raised the input level of the microphones using ‘Levels’ in Windows 10 Settings with some improvement, but I guess the solution is either to use the microphones that I already have and keep them close to my face when I talk or to buy a more sophisticated microphone


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#3
June 15, 2019 at 14:34:09
✔ Best Answer
$15 doesn't sound much like a decent microphone; certainly not one with a reasonably high (mic level) output...

I'd expect to pay more than that; but I hesitate to suggest how much more as I haven't bought or checked mics for an age.

If you read Amazon.com reviews for your first mic you'll see more than a few that are very critical of it. Some commenting the need to have it no more than a few inches from the mouth.

https://www.amazon.com/Tumo-Profess...

Your second one is even worse - albeit a very few reviews.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/CMTECK-Mic...

Neither is really up to adequate, proper performance.

I'd suggest a browse of Amazon at least for "condenser microphones" (no "" of course.

You'll see a range of relatively inexpensive through to high end.. And if you browse professional sources you'll see just how much a truly pro model can cost..

I would be looking at around $40 or so upwards at least. Clearly the cheapies aren't up to the job; unless you want to hold the mic more or less to your lips.

If one has decent speaking voice, knows how to project within reason then a decent mic ought to work at distance of at least foot or more.

The closer you have a mic to the voice or other input/sound source, the less work it has to do, the less significant pre-amp is required, and often less background noise when mic level is increased to accommodate low voice level.

Mics come in at least basic configurations; omni-directional - pics up sound from all 360degrees; bi-directional - picks up from front and back with not much from the sides; cardioid - picks up from the front with some from the sides (the pattern is somewhat heart shaped in design ,hence the name). Cardioid field can vary depending on mic design and use. Some mics have selectable cardioid patterns; some may allow a choice of omni, or uni-directional; some omni or bi-directional; some may allow all three... But then you're spending money...


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#4
June 15, 2019 at 16:14:57
Thanks for all the good information. I will be shopping for a new microphone.

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